West Nile Virus - You can protect your loved one!

Information provided by the Centers for Disease Control:

What Is West Nile Virus?

West Nile virus (WNV) is a potentially serious illness. Experts believe WNV is established as a seasonal epidemic in North America that flares up in the summer and continues into the fall. This fact sheet contains important information that can help you recognize and prevent West Nile virus.

 What Can I Do to Prevent WNV? The easiest and best way to avoid WNV is to prevent mosquito bites.

• When you are outdoors, use insect repellents containing an EPA-registered insect repellent. Follow the directions on the package.

• Many mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn. Be sure to use insect repellent and wear long sleeves and pants at these times or consider staying indoors during these hours.

• Make sure you have good screens on your windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out.

• Get rid of mosquito breeding sites by emptying standing water from flower pots, buckets and barrels. Change the water in pet dishes and replace the water in bird baths weekly. Drill holes in tire swings so water drains out. Keep children's wading pools empty and on their sides when they aren't being used.

 How Does West Nile Virus Spread?

Infected Mosquitoes. Most often, WNV is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds. Infected mosquitoes can then spread WNV to humans and other animals when they bite.

Transfusions, Transplants, and Mother-to-Child. In a very small number of cases, WNV also has been spread through blood transfusions, organ transplants, breastfeeding and even during pregnancy from mother to baby.

Not through touching. WNV is not spread through casual contact such as touching or kissing a person with the virus.

 What Is the Risk of Getting Sick from WNV?

People over 50 at higher risk to get severe illness. People over the age of 50 are more likely to develop serious symptoms of WNV if they do get sick and should take special care to avoid mosquito bites.

Being outside means you're at risk. The more time you're outdoors, the more time you could be bitten by an infected mosquito. Pay attention to avoiding mosquito bites if you spend a lot of time outside, either working or playing.

Risk through medical procedures is very low. All donated blood is checked for WNV before being used. The risk of getting WNV through blood transfusions and organ transplants is very small, and should not prevent people who need surgery from having it. If you have concerns, talk to your doctor.

Pregnancy and nursing do not increase risk of becoming infected with WNV. The risk that WNV may present to a fetus or an infant infected through breast milk is still being evaluated. Talk with your care provider if you have concerns.

 What Else Should I Know?

If you find a dead bird: Don't handle the body with your bare hands. Contact the Champaign Health District at 937-484-1606 for instructions on reporting and disposing of the body.

More information about West Nile Virus and other mosquito born illnessess can be found here.